This time last year, Forbes magazine wrote Scott Ferber “has what it takes to be world-class business builder”.
After all, six years after founding the online ad network Advertising.com with his brother in 1998, a 35-year-old Ferber sold the company to AOL for a hefty $495m.
Many a founder would have taken the opportunity to cash out after that kind of exit. But Baltimore-born, Stanford-educated engineer Ferber wanted to keep going - now he is taking as much pleasure from the bad times as the good.
“People on the outside would say it (Advertising.com) was my greatest accomplishment,” he tells Beet.TV in this video interview. ”But the industry changes and the fact we’re addressing the television convergence (with Videology) - it’s such a big opportunity, and I feel like it’s still early. And it’s much harder!”
Ferber got the idea for Videology whilst working for AOL after the acquisition, searching for ways to create an internet video content platform. That didn’t work out quite as planned but setbacks, says Ferber, are the lessons that make you stronger.
“The setback I had at Videology was the same I had at Advertising.com, which was an economic crisis,” he says. ”March of 2000 was arguably the beginning of the dot.com implosion. Eventually, we had 9/11 in 2001. That whole time period was incredibly difficult. We lost 60% of our revenues in five months. It was a travesty.
“What I learned from that is, the only constant in life is change. The most important thing is how good are we at reacting to changing conditions, which will always occur.”
That is a belief Ferber – who has won several awards including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Blue Chip Venture Company’s Chief Executive Officer of the Year – has carried over to Videology.
“The existing business model at the time – to aggregate content form the studios and put it out as a destination site for consumers – wasn’t going to work,” he says. “The economic crisis of 2008 wasn’t going to allow us to survive long enough to see that through. We pivoted. We changed course.”
Now the company is trying to help advertisers benefit from digital, targeted video advertising, and is moving to help TV ad buyers benefit from the convergence of TV and internet technologies. Ferber says the power of pivoting, and persistence, is clear.
“The most important thing is a positive attitude and determination. If I can persist and not get down on what’s happened … that was the single greatest reason for our success.”
This interview is from Beet.TV’s “Media Revolutionaries”, a 50-part series of interviews with key innovators and leaders in the media, technology and advertising industries, sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft. Xaxis is a unit of WPP. Please find more clips from the series here.
Ferber was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital. The interview took place at the Wynn Encore hotel in Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2015.
You can find this post on Beet.TV.
Our current political situation is unprecedented. The vast majority of Americans keep falling behind economically because of changes in society’s ground rules, while the rich get even richer — yet this situation doesn’t translate into a winning politics.
If anything, the right keeps gaining and the wealthy keep pulling away. How can this possibly be?
Let me suggest seven reasons:
Reason One. The Discrediting of Politics Itself. The Republican Party has devised a strategy of hamstringing government and making any remediation impossible.
Instead of the voters punishing Republicans, the result is cynicism and passivity, so the Republican strategy is vindicated and rewarded.
The media plays into this pattern by adopting a misleading narrative that makes the gridlock in Washington roughly the equal fault of both parties — with lazy phrases such as “Washington is broken,” or “politics is broken,” or “partisan bickering.” (Do a Google search of those clichés. It will make you sick.)
Eminent political scientists such as Jacob Hacker (Off-Center) and Thomas E. Mann and co-author Norman Ornstein, a self-described Republican (It’s Even Worse Than It Looks) have thoroughly debunked the premise of symmetrical blame. It’s Republicans who are the blockers. But these scholars and their evidence fail to alter the media storyline, and the damage has been done.
The very people who have given up on politics, and on Democrats as stewards of a social compact that helps regular working people, are precisely those regular working people — who see the Dream getting away from them and government not helping.
Reason Two. Compromised Democrats. But the Democrats are hardly blameless. Instead of seizing on the collapse of 2008 as a disgrace for laissez-faire economics, deregulation, Wall Street and the Republican Party, Barack Obama tried to make nice with the GOP, refrained from cleaning out the big banks that caused the mess, and drank the Kool-Aid of budget balance.
The result: working people frustrated with economic backsliding had no party that really championed their interests. The fateful year 2008 may have been the worst missed moment for revolutionary reform in the history of the Republic — and depending on who gets the Democratic nomination next time and what she does with it, 2016 could rival 2008 as a lost opportunity.
Republicans made big gains in the off-year elections of 2010 and 2014. Skeptical or cynical voters on the Democratic side (young people, poor people, African Americans, single women) are less likely to vote in off-years, while the rightwing base stays ferociously engaged. The more that potentially Democratic voters are disaffected, the more the Right can block any progress on inequality.
Reason Three. The Reign of Politicized Courts and Big Money. The Supreme Court’s usual majority has become an opportunistic subsidiary of the Republican Party. Two key decisions, reflecting outrageous misreading of both the Constitution and the abuses of recent history, undermined citizenship and entrenched the rule of big money.
In the Citizens United case of 2010,the Court majority gave unlimited license to big personal and corporate money. And in the Shelby County v. Holder decision of 2013, the Court invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, declaring open season for a new era of voter suppression.
As a consequence, the potential role of invigorated democracy as the antidote to concentrated wealth has been weakened. Economic inequality translates into inequality of political influence.
Reason Four. The Collapse of Equalizing Institutions. During the postwar boom, America actually became more equal. The bottom quarter gained more income share than the top quarter. This was no historical or technological accident. Shared prosperity was built on government activism promoting opportunity, strong unions providing decent wages even for the less educated, enforcement of other labor laws, debt-free public higher education, well-regulated financial institutions, a genuinely progressive income tax, and a trading system that did not promote outsourcing.
Politics — not technology — caused the evisceration of these instruments. Politics could take back a fairer America.
Reason Five. Bewildering Changes in How Jobs Are Structured. In the past couple of decades, regular payroll jobs with career prospects have increasingly been displaced by an economy of short-term gigs, contract work, and crappy payroll jobs without decent pay and benefits, or even regular hours. This shift often gets blamed on technology or education, but that’s malarkey.
With a different political balance of forces, regular employees could not be disguised as contract workers; corporate executives could face felony convictions for wage theft; the right to unionize would be enforced; the windfall profits of the “share economy” would actually be shared with workers; large corporations like McDonalds could not pretend that the wages and working conditions in its franchises were somebody else’s problem — and full employment would give workers more bargaining power generally.
Reason Six. The Internalization of a Generation’s Plight. Compared to my age cohort, Millennials are the screwed generation. The dream of homeownership has been undercut; good jobs with career prospects are in short supply; young adults begin economic life saddled with student debt; the pension system has been blown up; and if you want to have kids, society doesn’t do anything to help the work-family straddle.
You’d expect young adults to be in the streets, but here the cynicism about politics blends with a natural inclination to make a virtue of necessity. Maybe I’ll never own a home but I have to move around a lot anyway. I have all I need on my iPad, which means I’m less materialistic than my parents. And hey, I don’t get to be a millionaire like the people who created Uber, but maybe I’ll be an Uber driver, which is cool. Not to mention airbnb.
On the other hand, the political leader who called for a one-time write off of all past student debt might still rally a lot of Millennials. In the distribution of income and opportunity, a lot of questions that are actually political have been personalized and internalized. The assumption that we are all on our own is deeply political. But that can be changed.
Reason Seven. The Absence of a Movement. In the face of all these assaults on the working and middle class, there are many movements but no Movement. The Occupy movement, which gave us the phrase, “The One Percent,” was too hung up on its own procedural purity to create a broad movement for economic justice.
Looking out at the plethora of local and national groups pursuing greater economic equality, one sees mainly idealism and fragmentation.
Some of it is caused by that dread phrase, 501 c 3. Well-meaning foundations fall in love with the charismatic activist leader de jour, seem intent on creating yet another grass roots group or coalition, and then that group needs to differentiate itself from rivals and dance to the foundation’s tune. (This is a column for another day.)
The remedies that would restore economic opportunity and security to ordinary Americans are far outside mainstream political conversation, and will not become mainstream until forced onto the agenda by a genuine mass movement. Sometimes that movement gets lucky and finds a rendezvous with a sympathetic national leader.
This has occurred before — in the Roosevelt Revolution of the 1930s and the Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s. But without a potent movement on the ground, mainstream electoral politics is likely to remain stuck with remedies too weak either to rouse public imagination and participation, or to provide more than token relief for today’s extreme inequality.
This vicious circle — really a downward spiral about depressed expectations and diminished participation — can be reversed, as it has been reversed at moments in the American past. As that noted political consultant Joe Hill put it, as they were taking him to the gallows, “Don’t mourn, organize.”
Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect and a visiting professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School. His latest book is Debtors’ Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility.
President Barack Obama sat down for an interview with The Huffington Post on Friday, covering such topics as pardons, sequestration and pay for college athletes, among other things.
Watch the full interview with Obama above, and see a list of all the stories from the interview below:
So, that happened. This week, the GOP released budget proposals and it’s good news if you like massive cuts in discretionary spending and a bloated defense budget. We’ll detail the broad strokes of a funding fantasia that probably won’t pass and will likely lead to some new apocalyptic showdown.
Listen to this week’s “So, That Happened” below:
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Some highlights from this week:
“They would put a lid on Medicaid spending, put a lid on food stamps spending, but they came to Social Security and said, ‘Someone’s got to figure this out, perhaps a bipartisan commission.’ This is literally what it says in the text of the actual legislation.” — Arthur Delaney
Meanwhile, Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock is resigning his seat, after the public disclosure of his “Downton Abbey”-themed office inspired reporters to investigate the numerous ways Schock was spending taxpayer money. But is this the best we can do when it comes to fighting government corruption? Sadly, yes.
“Congress is by and large a few hundred empty vessels into which major corporate interests and lobbyists fill ideas that they then parrot back and make into laws. So we caught Aaron Schock, and taxpayers have the right to be aggrieved, but what we don’t do is have this hallelujah chorus saying, ‘Yeah we got one!’” — Jason Linkins
Finally, Starbucks has decided to take on race relations in America by asking baristas to lead a national conversation about it. Are they getting paid more? Will the coffee taste better? What is a caramel flan latte, exactly? We have three white dudes on hand to talk about this, so sit back and listen to us make a sad, blundering hash of unformed thoughts and unintended micro-aggressions out of this topic.
“It does seem like you’re asking for there to be a lot of really tense conversations in the Starbucks, but come on, he’s trying. We go through problems with race relations, and I think they would get better if we talked about them more instead of having Fox News and MSNBC yelling at people.” — Zach Carter
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“So, That Happened” is available on iTunes. We’ve been working to create an eclectic and informative panel show that’s constantly evolving, a show that’s as in touch with the top stories of the week as it is with important stories that go underreported. We’ll be here on a weekly basis, bringing you the goods.
Never miss an episode: Subscribe to “So, That Happened” on iTunes, and if you like what you hear, please leave a review. We also encourage you to check out other HuffPost Podcasts: HuffPost Comedy’s “Too Long; Didn’t Listen,” the HuffPost Weird News Podcast, HuffPost Politics’ “Drinking and Talking,” HuffPost Live’s “Fine Print” and HuffPost Entertainment’s Podcast.
This podcast was edited by Ibrahim Balkhy and engineered by Brad Shannon, with assistance from Christine Conetta and Adriana Usero.
When Jon Stewart retires from “The Daily Show” later this year, Fox News might be the first in line to throw him a party because being on the wrong end of his wrath night after night can’t be that much fun.
On Thursday, Stewart tore the “fair and balanced” news network to shreds over its repeated demands that Ferguson protesters and their supporters apologize in the wake of a Department of Justice report that found Michael Brown didn’t have his hands up when he was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.
“The lesson Fox News is getting at is very clear,” said Stewart. “Wouldn’t it be nice if people who jumped to conclusions and peddled a false, divisive, anger-stoking narrative had to apologize for misleading America?”
So how about Fox News and its “two-year rage-gasm” over Benghazi? As Stewart points out, a report from a Republican-led committee that cleared the Obama administration of just about every conspiracy theory Fox News has been pushing went largely ignored by the network.
Has Fox News apologized for its “tsunami of misinformation?”
Of course not — and, for now anyway, Stewart is still here to remind them of it.
Check out the clip above for the full takedown.
Megyn Kelly went head to head with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) Wednesday night over his efforts to ban the immigration of Muslims who promote radical Islam.
On Monday, Jindal told listeners at the conservative American Action Forum that the United States should not allow any immigrants to enter the country who might “use the freedoms we give them to undermine the freedoms we grant to everyone.”
Jindal has since come under fire from Muslim organizations because of his statements. Groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have blasted Jindal’s proposition as “fearmongering” and a “desperate attempt” for votes.
On Fox News’ “The Kelly File” Wednesday night, Jindal clarified that his comments only referred to “radical Muslims,” like those who “treat women as second-class citizens.”
“Why would I want to allow people who want to kill Americans to come to America?” he said.
Kelly responded that she thought is was “controversial” for the Governor to discriminate against anyone who believes in Islamic Sharia law.
“Who decides how far into Sharia law you have to be?” she asked. “Who decides who’s a radical Islamist and who’s just an Islamist?”
Jindal responded that as long as a person is not causing harm to another person, then they have a right to be in the U.S. They do not have the right, however, to come to the U.S. and impose certain strict beliefs like those regarding women and children, he said.
“Why don’t you have that right?” Kelly shot back. “Why not? This is a country with lots of crazy beliefs. And actually, some religions continue to treat women as second class citizens and it’s not just some forms of Islam. Are we going to start banning everybody who doesn’t treat women or children or criminals for that matter the way we like?”
Things got a little awkward on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” Tuesday night.
During a segment on Starbucks’ new and controversial “Race Together” campaign, which seeks to have employees start open conversations about race with customers, guests Jay Smooth and “CBS Sunday Morning” contributor Nancy Giles illustrated for viewers just how uncomfortable such interactions can be.
Smooth — who in addition to hosting a long-running hip-hop show on New York’s WBAI radio station also video blogs about issues of race and culture for Fusion — took the position that a campaign like “Race Together” fails to get at the true, systemic problems of white supremacy in America.
The conversation was largely substantive, but after host Chris Hayes rolled footage of Smooth’s YouTube video “How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist,” things started to go off the rails.
“I can’t not tease Jay about the kinda, like, brotha way he was trying to talk,” Giles said. “Like, ‘Hey,’ with the rap music in the background, and, like, down with the people.”
“I’m a rap guy!” Smooth responded, most likely seeing the train wreck coming from a mile away. But Giles continued to persist anyways.
“Yeah, I know, but it’s another interesting, funny thing about race,” she said. “Like, there would be some people that feel that you co-opted something like that, and other people might feel like that’s his background and that’s really cool, too.”
Giles continued to joke with Smooth about the way he spoke in the video, until finally things came to an inevitable and cringeworthy halt.
“It’s also interesting because I’m actually black, but you assumed otherwise,” Smooth said. “And this is the sort of awkwardness that we can look forward to at Starbucks across America.”
The exchange was good-natured throughout — with Hayes laughing and clapping on the sidelines — but painful to watch nonetheless.
The Rockettes are known for their precise choreography, statuesque demeanor and ability to make even the scroogiest New Yorker embrace the holiday spirit. Now, thanks to Diane Von Furstenberg, Zac Posen and Isaac Mizrahi, they’re about to be synonymous with great fashion, too.
The three icons have each created a custom costume for The Rockette’s new show, “New York Spring Spectacular“. The 7-week engagement celebrates all aspects of New York City life, including the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and of course, Fashion Week. The designers will make video cameos during the NYFW portion of the performance, to share how New York inspires them.
Furstenberg, Mizrahi and Posen are all celebrated designers, but Posen said that there is something truly special about working with The Rockettes. “I was born and raised in New York City and theater has always been a major influence in my life and on my fashion career,” he said in a statement.
For Mizrahi, working with The Rockettes was a dream come true. He told HuffPost: “I love a showgirl, but The Rockettes are no mere showgirls. They are amazing women and fabulous precision dancers. They occupy a genre all their own. When people refer to this sort of dancing they call it ‘ROCKETTE-ESQUE.’”
Tickets for the show, which will run through May 3, can be purchased here.
Upset by something you see on Facebook? The social media giant really, really wants you to report it.
The social network on Sunday updated guidelines to its community standards, clarifying which types of content are inappropriate for the platform while emphasizing the need for users to report offensive posts. These guidelines underscore the difficulty of policing a network of over 1 billion people, and some experts say Facebook needs to do more to prevent objectionable content from slipping through the monitoring system already in place.
“If people believe Pages, profiles or individual pieces of content violate our Community Standards, they can report it to us by clicking the ‘Report’ link at the top, right-hand corner,” Facebook representatives Monika Bickert and Chris Sonderby wrote in a blog post about the update.
The update to Facebook’s community standards doesn’t introduce new rules, but it does bring additional detail to specific areas including hate speech, nudity and violent content. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, as text from the updated hate speech guidelines shows (emphasis ours):
Organizations and people dedicated to promoting hatred against these protected groups are not allowed a presence on Facebook. As with all of our standards, we rely on our community to report this content to us.
People can use Facebook to challenge ideas, institutions, and practices. Such discussion can promote debate and greater understanding. Sometimes people share content containing someone else’s hate speech for the purpose of raising awareness or educating others about that hate speech. When this is the case, we expect people to clearly indicate their purpose, which helps us better understand why they shared that content.
Facebook itself acknowledges the challenge in determining what kinds of posts need to be taken down.
“We know that our policies won’t perfectly address every piece of content, especially where we have limited context, but we evaluate reported content seriously and do our best to get it right,” the blog post from Sunday reads.
Reached via email by The Huffington Post, a representative for Facebook declined to offer comment beyond the blog entry and an additional post about the new guidelines by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The reliance on self-policing may not be surprising, given that Facebook has 1.39 billion monthly users to patrol. The company does reportedly employ a group of laborers to eliminate the truly bad stuff, like beheadings and child pornography, though that’s not a great solution.
“Workers quit because they feel desensitized by the hours of pornography they watch each day and no longer want to be intimate with their spouses. … Every day they see proof of the infinite variety of human depravity,” Adrian Chen wrote for Wired. He reported that over 100,000 people do such work for social media companies worldwide.
While content moderation has been an issue since the dawn of consumer Internet connections, the topic has loomed particularly large in recent months. Just last week, Twitter formally banned revenge porn, explicit content that’s spread without a subject’s consent. In February, French President Francois Hollande asked “major Internet firms” to crack down on hate speech following the January attacks by Islamic militants on a satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket in Paris. Facebook and Twitter have also been working to block accounts linked to the Islamic State group.
And there’s even more from last year, when #GamerGate attacked feminist voices in the gaming community and online trolls began harassing the woman at the center of Rolling Stone’s controversial story about campus sexual assault.
“Facebook has the poor bastards that are just watching this endless tide,” Finn Brunton, an assistant professor of media, culture and communication at New York University, told HuffPost in a phone interview regarding content moderation on social media. “You can automate so many different aspects of building a giant community platform on the internet, but it’s hard to automate [moderation].”
Mindless automation probably isn’t the answer. Imagine if a group could get someone banned on social media by spamming reports simply because they don’t like an individual’s opinion. It’s happened before.
“The person who can figure out how to scale moderation … is going to be the next super gigantic dot com success,” Brunton told HuffPost.
He expects that “deep learning techniques” will eventually allow computers to analyze the sentiment behind content posted online to remove it without the aid of a human moderator. Facebook is already developing such techniques, including one that can identify if a user looks drunk in a picture they post online. A similar idea could be applied to a variety of circumstances.
In any case, it’s time for something to change, according to Brunton.
“We’ve passed through a period where it’s acceptable for companies to rely on their users,” he told HuffPost. “The free speech of one group leads to muteness and withdrawal of threatened groups.”
Call it Schrödinger’s app: You probably just heard about Meerkat, and people are already saying it’s dead.
Meerkat is a new video app for iOS that allows anyone to launch a live stream using their iPhone or iPad. You could think of it like FaceTime, except you’re broadcasting to anyone in the world rather than just to Aunt Millicent in Denver. Start a video stream from Meerkat and the app will automatically tweet a link to it, allowing anyone to click it and watch from their laptop, phone or tablet.
A quick look at the basic premise of Meerkat.
Its popularity has soared since its late-February launch. On Saturday, it was the 59th most popular social networking app in the App Store, according to App Annie, a feat that coincides with the buzz it’s received at South by Southwest this weekend.
But Twitter may have killed it on Friday.
As Mat Honan reported for Buzzfeed, the social media giant removed Meerkat’s ability to import social connections from its (much larger) platform. This effectively means Meerkat can’t piggyback off the years of social buildup you may already have on Twitter.
“This won’t totally kill Meerkat — people will still be able to use it to announce on Twitter that they are streaming — but it will seriously kneecap it,” Honan wrote.
“It means that new users won’t automatically be notified by the app when friends are broadcasting unless they manually build out their friend networks. This hurts the app’s ability to keep people on Meerkat itself,” he added.
So, Meerkat suddenly has to make it on its own. Critics are skeptical that it can.
Erin Griffith wrote on Fortune.com that the app is merely the latest viral confection at SXSW — it’s the talk of the town now, but what does that mean in a market where apps are downloaded and discarded in seconds, where the big dogs like Snapchat receive $15 billion valuations and the minor blips fade into obscurity forever?
“Today, if an app goes viral, it’s probably doomed,” Griffith wrote. “Remember Yo? Remember Ello? Remember Secret? Remember Frontback? Remember Draw Something? Remember Turntable.fm? Remember Chatroulette?”
Meerkat founder Ben Rubin told The Guardian that “everyone has a story to tell.” As Meerkat is left to sink or swim without the aid of Twitter’s network, he’d better hope people will want to tell those stories on his platform.
Then again, the company behind Meerkat, Life On Air, has already raised $3.6 million in funding largely based on Rubin’s previous app Yevvo. According to the Wall Street Journal, Yevvo “allowed live-video broadcasts by users that were streamed to any other users wishing to tune in.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?